YORKTON – A Sask made film is set to screen at the Tower Theatre Nov. 1.
Aaron Sinclair's "The Wild" is a mystery film that was shot in Saskatchewan over the course of 15 days in 2020.
The film was shot in notable Sask locations including Indian Head, Wolsely, Quappelle, the Castle Butte Badlands and Wascana Trail.
"It doesn't have the same Hollywood push the big films get so I just want to make sure everyone knows it's from here," said Sinclair in an interview with Yorkton This Week.
The film's plot, which Sinclair said is of the mystery genre, centers around a disappearance.
"A woman goes missing from a night out at a small town bar ... her younger sister and her sister's best friend go looking for her," said Sinclair, adding, "they encounter a mysterious cult and family curse and a lot of sideways looks from local townspeople."
Sinclar told Yorkton This Week he has been making films for about 12 years and has worked on several different types of productions including weddings, commercials, music videos and documentary work. He said the idea for a feature length film came from his time spent working on short films.
"I've always done shorts and I've always had it in my head that I wanted to do a feature film," said Sinclair, "this is my first [feature] so the time finally came to do it."
"I grew up in Limerick Sask.," said Sinclair, notin he moved around to several different parts of Canada before finding himself back in the province.
"As a filmmaker I've always been more-or-less based in Sask," said Sinclair, "I've travelled and shot in different places but not really in any sort of major capacity."
"I think being here and establishing myself even just a little bit made a big difference just because you kind of know what you can do and you know your resources — resources that will sort of up the production value," said Sinclair.
"Shooting a movie here is still kind of novel experience for the average person ... even for filmmakers there's a lot of excitement," said Sinclair.
"For locations and things like that people are pretty willing to work with you and just kind of open the doors to their business or their property or whatever," said Sinclair of the benefits of shooting a movie in Sask, adding, "if we were in California we'd be looking at location fees on a lot of those things."
"People are just happy to be involved," said Sinclair, noting, "I've felt that energy from the theatres so far with the release as well," noting theatres were excited to be screening a Sask film.
Sinclair's "DIY theatre run" will see the film screened at 12 different locations in the province and will run for up to a week at some venues.
"I personally e-mailed the managers and owners of theatres in Sask and asked them if they would show it and what date works for them and then I asked them if they wanted to do a Q and A and a lot of them have been wanting to do that so I will be in attendance for a few of the screenings as well," said Sinclair.
As for the production itself, Sinclair said it took him a week to write the script that would become the 97 minute feature film and was produced with a budget of $100K, funds which Sinclair said came from a Creative Sask grant and private equity.
"Post-production was probably about a year and then another year of festival submissions and waiting and seeing and now it's finally out," said Sinclair.
"We went against the typical micro-budget film advice — which is to pick a location and shoot there — we actually shot 25 different locations," said Sinclair.
When it came time to call action, Sinclair said there were issues, but that was just part of the job.
"In some ways that's what directing is — solving issues quickly," said Sinclair.
"A lot of film making is being able to — especially indy filmmaking — is being able to adjust and say, 'ok, we don't have the location we thought we did today — what can we do, what can we get done, where can we go?' ... there's always stuff like that that comes up," said Sinclair.
Sinclair estimated the core group of cast and crew was around 25 people but with everyone involved, including background actors, that number increased to 60.
"We have a great team," said Sinclair, "it was a small but mighty group of local filmmakers and everybody was really agile and able to adjust when there was trouble."
Being it his first time directing a feature film, Sinclair said it was "very much a different thing" but he had prepared himself through his other endeavours. When it came to music videos and short films Sinclair said he shot them in a way with a feature in mind.
"If I was doing something on a short — even just something small — I was trying a different method ... even just trying a different method of directing with the actors or making sure I was really paying attention to the blocking," said Sinclair, noting he held a mental checklist of things to try.
"It's definitely a different thing but I had this awareness of just how exciting it was to be there and how exciting it was to be finally making this feature," said Sinclair, "I really loved being on set every single day."
Sinclair said he's found the hardest parts of making a film on the production side of things.
"Most of the challenges have come on the producing side ... finding funding and fast forward to this part of it — distributing and marketing and all that — that's challenging and I'm learning a whole lot about how the industry works."
The director also said he's saved on costs by pulling double-duties.
"I did a lot on the film for sure," said Sinclair with a laugh, noting he edited the film as well as wrote the score.
"I have a background in music — so I wrote the score and I had friends involved when possible," said Sinclair.
Sinclair said the film has seen success on the film festival circuit noting it screened at a festival in Italy, taking home an honourable mention for best cast.
"I ended up going and it was a very cool experience," said Sinclair.
"There's been a couple of other festivals that don't do a typical screening format," said Sinclair, "we have won best feature at BLASTOFF and then best foreign at Manhattanhenge Film Festival Film Festival."
Sinclair said he's continuing to submit the film to festivals and his next step is to look for streaming or distribution after the theatre run wraps.
"The festival run is sort of the start of the release. I'm using this to test and see how it goes," said Sinclair, noting if the screenings in the province go well he would consider doing the same in Man and Alta.
"So far there's been a pretty good response but I want to see how many people show up to the theatres too."
"The Wild" is set to show at the Tower Theatre Nov. 1 at 7:00 PM with a Q&A hosted by the Yorkton Film Festival after the screening.